Julien Neaves – Editor
Greetings mango lovers. Today I will be continuing my coverage of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, which is in its 15th year. For the article today I will be doing spoiler-free reviews of three dystopian Sci Fi shorts: Immune (UK), Inexorable (Martinique) and Timeout (Martinique as well). Let’s do this thang!
This had better be the proof of concept for a feature because I need more of this dystopian story. Directed by Robert Macfarlane, the film is set in a world ravaged by a deadly disease (sound familiar?) where a pregnant woman and her husband attempt to flee the authoritarian government hunting those who are immune.
The acting by the leads (Celine Abrahams and Drew Elston) was pretty strong, especially Abrahams who has a lot of emotional internalising to do. I felt a genuine concern for the fate of this family which is quite the accomplishment for a 15-minute film. But my favourite performance was Andrew Scarborough as Inspector Dyson. He speaks so softly and calmly but you can tell he is a man completely in control of the situation. The fear and tension of discovery is wonderfully palpable and is paced very well. And the production quality is very sleek and polished. The film gave me some Children of Men vibes and I loved Children of Men. So I am not immune from wanting to revisit this bleak world. You saw what I did there and you liked it!
I thought this one had an interesting set up. Directed by Philippe Lugsor, Inexorable is set in a Martinique that has been ravaged by a poisonous seaweed that has rendered much of the air toxic. One woman works to harvest the seaweed for a mega-corporation called Sunryse to get enough money to care for her ailing father.
On the positive side the saturated lighting of the film adds to the despair of the situation and it gets the atmosphere right. But things fell down in the writing. There is a framing device that does not make sense narratively and a scene that happens and then jumps to another without any connection. And the whole Sunryse conspiracy angle was quite unsatisfying. There is a good foundation here but this one could have used more polish in the script and editing departments.
If Immune reminded me of Children of Men, Timeout gave me some Hunger Games, Maze Runner vibes. Director Laura Bucher invites us to a post-apocalyptic Martinique (poor island can’t catch a break) where the society is divided into clans who kill and scrape for survival. For young Alice the threat of death goes from existential to immediate when she is chased by a young man from another clan with murderous intent.
The two leads Alice (Shékina Mangatelle-Carey) and Levy (Silvière Mothmora) give decent, if not spectacular performances. The costuming was the real stand out for me here, especially the cool clan face tattoos. There is just something so wild, tribal and otherworldly about them. And the chase premise keeps the pace moving along well, with the flashbacks used both for information and as breathers. Like Immune this is another world that has potential for more stories or a longer film treatment.
If you’re in the English-speaking Caribbean, it is still September 13 and you would like to watch these films, along with three others, you can purchase the TTFF “Lime Bundle” for today here. And for my first TTFF 2020 article and a review of supernatural thriller Mightier dan de Sun you can click here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.